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CFF DFS - Week Four: Pigs get fed, hogs get slaughtered
Excuse me. I'm Conor O'Neill. I got an 11:30 with James Fleming. Can you lend me... 12 grand?
Excuse me. I'm Conor O'Neill. I got an 11:30 with James Fleming. Can you lend me... 12 grand?
- Keanu Reeves, Hardball (2001)
In the movie Hardball, Keanu Reeves plays Conor O'Neill, a desperate gambling addict who agrees to coach an underprivileged youth baseball team to earn extra cash. By the end of the movie, O'Neill learns as much from those 5th graders as they learn from him — and wins the heart of the boys’ English teacher, Miss Wilkes.
Ultimately though, it is Keanu’s portrayal of the exhilaration of wins and the crushing weight of losses in sports gambling that stays with the viewer long after the credits roll. And that is why Hardball earns a spot on the VP 100 Greatest Movies list, along with classics Jerry Maguire and Rocky IV. The moral of the story: sports wagering is not to be taken lightly.
Welcome back, friends. After a slight hiatus, I’m back today with another Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) post for Week Four. This time we’re shifting our focus to the intriguing realm of PrizePicks' over/under bets.
Plays I like this week
As with any advice I give, I will add the disclaimer that I do not have a crystal ball into what is going to happen in the future. I advise anyone to stick with your gut feeling whenever making decisions in CFF, or betting money on CFF outcomes. What I am doing here is outlining some of my thoughts on some lines that appear attractive to me. Ultimately, the decision is yours on whether you decide to take action or not.
Oregon WR Troy Franklin to score a REC TD vs. Colorado — One of the most anticipated matchups this weekend—the Buffs travel into Eugene to take on what look to be an extremely explosive Oregon Ducks team (O/U set at 70.5 with Oregon favoured by 21). Lucky for us, we just saw how Colorado deals with a highly talented 6’3” WR in Tory Horton a week ago, who repeatedly had his way with the Buffs’ secondary, particularly on shallow crossing routes. I have no doubt that the Buffs will come into this game with a renewed focus on stopping those types of plays, but I have my doubts regarding how much a team can improve in a matter of a few days. We know Colorado’s offence is great, and the defence is not. These facts create a perfect recipe in fantasy football for all of Oregon’s players, particularly Bo Nix and Troy Franklin. Look for Franklin to be heavily involved in this one, however, my one concern is that Tez Johnson has come on strong lately also, and could soak up Nix’ passing TDs. Even still, I think there’s going to be so much scoring in this game that it will be remarkable if Franklin escapes this one untouched (get it? ‘Touched’… ‘touchdown’… OK, I’ll admit that one wasn’t great…). Just as an FYI, Tory Horton put up 133 yards receiving and a score on 16 catches last weekend vs. CU. I don’t want to say I expect Franklin to replicate that (17 targets is pretty extraordinary), and I expect Oregon will be playing from the lead most of this game, which will probably disincentivize throwing, particularly in the second half, but Franklin does currently have three TDs in three games, and is currently averaging 8.33 targets per game despite Oregon blowing two of its three opponents out. I assume Colorado will put up a stronger fight than Portland State and Hawaii… ‘assume’ being the operative word here.
Over on Ole Miss WR Jordan Watkins 12.5 fantasy score vs. Alabama — This is more of a sneaky play depending on the health of WRs Tre Harris and Zakhari Franklin. Watkins has quietly strung together a productive three weeks—he is averaging a luxurious 18.7 FPG so far, and he has gone over 20 points in two of his three games. The target volume isn’t absurd, he’s only seen 6, 7, and 6 targets. Part of his expanded role is due in part to the injuries to the other WRs. Franklin is apparently practicing with contact now, but Harris remains a limtited particpant in practice. That doesn’t fill me with a lot of confidence that either will be playing on Saturday at full capacity. If that’s the case, Watkins over 12.5 points is a very attractive line for me. Ole Miss should be able to score enough in this game vs. a strong but not unbeatable Alabama defence. The O/U is set at 55.5 with the Tide favoured by 6.5.
Over on PITT RB Rodney Hammond 61.5 rush yards vs. UNC — Another sneaky play here. And I know what you’re probably saying right now “VP, Hammond’s been hot garbage this season! He hasn’t cleared that threshold in any of his three games thus far!”. I get it, I get it. But head coach Pat Narduzzi swears to get Hammond even more involved this week than he was the previous week (a week where he vowed to get Hammond more carries and he did—14 vs. 6 and 5 from the previous two weeks). If my math is correct and my timeline is accurate, Narduzzi is saying he wants Hammond to see even more volume than 14 carries this week. Now consider also that UNC just got shredded by Minnesota’s Darius Taylor last weekend for 138 yards and a score. Granted, Minnesota’s probably a better run team than Pitt is at this point, but Hammond is what they call in the industry a ‘rhythm runner’. He gets better with more touches, and in fact, you could probably say he just isn’t the same player unless he gets into his rhythm. That’s probably why the head coach is vowing to get him more carries despite his poor 3.8 ypc so far. Hammond is a good player, we saw this last season. When Hammond saw 16 carries or more last season, his rush yard totals were 124, 89, and 74.
Over on UVA QB Brennan Armstrong 34.5 rush yards vs. UVA — Armstrong is playing his old team in UVA on Friday and I expect a lot of fireworks from him. His OC—Robert Anae is also going against a former team of his, so there should be plenty of motivation here for the Wolfpack to score often. In two of his three games thus far, Armstrong’s surpassed that rushing total, and the one where he didn’t was a game where NC State was trailing most of the game. He still managed to come within 8 yards of that total, and scored a rushing TD. I like him to surpass this threshold this weekend. Will he? Well, as you know, gents, only time will tell. This game has an O/U of 48.5 with NC State favoured by 9.5.
Over on Purdue TE Max Klare 29.5 receiving yards vs. Wisconsin — Freshman TE Klare continues to impress me from a CFF angle, and I have to say I’m a bit surprised at how low this line is. He has gone over 60 yards receiving in each of his last two games, and as is usually the case with breakout players like this, his role is likely to continue to expand as the season progresses. After beginning the season with only 4 targets vs. Fresno State, he saw 9 and 7 targets in the last two weeks vs. Virginia Tech and Syracuse, respectively. I feel good about him seeing a similar level of volume this weekend vs. the Badgers. While you might be thinking that Wisconsin is typically a stingy program on defence, the Badgers this season have not been great vs. the pass. Normally, stats on the relative strength of units at this point in the season should be taken with a grain of salt, but the three teams Wisconsin has played thus far are all relatively similar in talent level to Purdue (Wazzou, Georgia Southern, and Buffalo).
Over on WISC WR Will Pauling 33.5 receiving yards vs. Purdue — I wrote a specific piece on Wisconsin’s slot receiver Will Pauling this offseason, and in it I highlighted OC Phil Longo’s propensity for utilizing his slot receivers. His track record of production at the position is notable, and Pauling has filled in admirably thus far this season. He may not be Josh Downs, but he’s still surpassed 33.5 receiving yards in two of his three games in 2023. In Week One, he received 5 targets, catching all of them for 55 yards. In Week Two, he saw 7 targets, catching 5 for 78 yards. Week Three was ugly, however, he only saw 2 targets, catching 1 for 16 yards. I’m willing to discard that performance, given his patterns in the first two weeks. The matchup vs. Purdue is also a good one, in my opinion. The O/U is currently set at 53.5. I’m looking for Pauling to have a bounce back game in this one.
Over on A&M WR Evan Stewart 16.5 fantasy score vs. Auburn — Stewart is currently a front runner for CFF WR1 through three weeks. He is averaging a massive 28.5 FPG in his two games so far. The reason why the line is so low, however, is that Stewart missed last week with an undisclosed injury. Jimbo was adamant that he’ll be fine this week, which tells me he should be fairly close to 100% if not already there. Yes, there’s some risk here because we are making some assumptions on the health of Stewart. This play is more so: if you think he’s close to full strength, then this line is low for a player who saw 11 and 16 targets in their first two games. You’ll be tempted to be swayed by Auburn’s salty 155 pass yards against per game, but then also consider that the opponents they’ve played include: UMass, Cal and FCS school Samford. Week Four is deadly because we’ve reached a point in the season where people will hang on to stats that are based on the OOC schedule. That’s a big no-no if you don’t consider the context of who the opponents are. I’m not buying Auburn as a pass defence juggernaut, and I think Stewart clears this mark on volume alone. The O/U is set at 51.5 with the Aggies favoured by 8. A potential pitfall of this play would be: Stewart’s not at full health and is used more as a decoy vs. Auburn.
Under on OSU RB Trey Henderson 68.5 rush yards vs. ND — Henderson’s been splitting carries with teammates Miyan Williams and Chip Trayanum virtually all season. I don’t see why that timeshare wouldn’t continue this weekend, in a game where both teams are going to need all hands on deck to come out victorious. The tricky thing with Hendo is, he’s explosive enough to where he’s always viable to knock off a big run and smash this rushing total. That being said, he’s failed to clear 68 yards rushing in two of his three games, and his season-high in carries is 13 thus far. That carry volume is low, and means he’ll have to be pretty efficient with his touches if that trend continues vs. ND. The O/U on this game is 55.5 with the Buckeyes favoured by 3. A potential pitfall of this play: Hendo smashes this total with one long explosive run for 99 yards and a tuddy, leaving ND’s defence in the dust as well as the proverbial egg all over my face.
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